Setting a scene for students, or using a story starter, is an effective method to quickly engage students in creative writing exercises. One of the techniques I frequently used was a story starter which I titled the The Blue Ford. Some of the students found this story starter quite “corny.” However, it always engaged them, and the quality of their work was a testament to their willingness to write and to engage in this topic. Typically, the students chose to write a humorous sketch, and they always met my expectation of maintaining the bounds of appropriateness for content and language.
During the course of the school year as students studied literature, we frequently studied a segment of dialogue in a short story that demonstrated an element of literature. The students quickly learned that dialogue typically revealed character. Now, as writers, the students will use what they had learned as readers.
Additionally, through this lesson, the students will learn that using dialogue in a short story can be an effective device for moving the plot forward. For example, dialogue can create action in a story by creating conflict or resolving conflict, and therefore moves the story forward (while revealing character).
The students will find this lesson both enjoyable and engaging while developing writing skills.